'Digital technology helps us learn more', say students

New research reveals how much importance learners place on technology

Young people learn better when digital technology is used effectively to support them, says Jisc report

Almost two-thirds of further education students say that when digital technology is used as part of their course, they understand things better, according to new research

Not-for-profit technology company Jisc surveyed more than 13,000 FE students from 30 different institutions and found using digital technologies as part of their course also made 63 per cent of learners feel more independent, 58 per cent fit learning into life more easily and 59 per cent enjoy learning more.

If they're not using the technology in the classroom, they're using it in their own time – 57 per cent used digital tools or apps to make notes or recordings. Just over half (51 per cent) looked for additional resources not recommended by their lecturer. 


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And yet, despite the majority taking full advantage of technology, FE students have less access to personally owned devices than HE students do. More than a quarter (28 per cent) own four or more devices – and 5 per cent don’t own any.

Almost half of learners want to see more laptops and for them to be available in class, with 17 per cent suggesting these should be on long-term loan.

But while 53 per cent of learners said that their college supports them to use their own digital device, just under a third of learners said they did not have access to reliable wi-fi – one of the main issues highlighted by students, alongside access to computers on campus and up-to-date software.

Sarah Knight, Jisc’s head of change for student experience, said that using technology was no longer optional for colleges and universities.

“Authentic opportunities for all students to develop digital skills need to be embedded within courses. For this to happen, it is essential that all staff develop their confidence and capabilities in using technology effectively.”

Shakira Martin, former president of the National Union of Students and head of student experience at Rose Bruford College, called on colleges to provide “opportunities for all learners to develop the skills they need to thrive in today’s fast-changing world.”

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